Roundup: Starship goes boom and the emerald mine is real

Stay to the end for a comic about incognito mode

Roundup: Starship goes boom and the emerald mine is real

As much as I hate how much of our attention he captures, there’s really no denying that this week was the week of Elon. He had his big interview with Fox News that further showed how much of a piece of shit he is. He reported Tesla numbers, causing the share price to tank and his personal net worth to go with it. His big rocket took to the sky for four minutes before exploding into a million pieces. And the absolute shitshow at Twitter continued with the sort-of removal of blue checks — only for them to be put back on many people’s accounts last night almost as a punishment. How the supposed genius have fallen.

In this week’s roundup, I have a bunch of suggested reads and stories you might have missed from the past week. But I also have some commentary on a few of those Elon stories, with the apology that I know there’s been a lot of Elon content lately. I don’t love it, but this is the sad world we live in so we may as well have a bit of a laugh at it.

Enjoy my thoughts on the SpaceX explosion below, followed by the new revelations on the emerald mine Elon has recently been so vigorously denying existed. If you’re not already a paying subscriber, upgrade your subscription to get the full issue and support the work I put into Disconnect!

Also, just a head’s up that if you wanted to pick up my book Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong about the Future of Transportation with a discount, Verso Books has the hardback on sale for 20% off and the ebook for 80% off until April 26 to celebrate the launch of their new website. Grab a copy!

The big rocket goes boom

Starship explosion. Source: YouTube

On Thursday, SpaceX’s Starship rocket took off from its launchpad in southeastern Texas. It was set for the weed day — 4/20 — so that the childish CEO could have a giggle. The initial plan was for the rocket to go into orbit and eventually fall into the Pacific some distance from Hawaii, but it never made it nearly that far. After a rocky launch, the rocket experienced some problems, was unable to separate, and exploded in midair.

Despite the disappointment, people were quick to praise it as a success anyway since it had gotten off the ground. SpaceX has taken a similar approach with its previous rockets, launching a bunch to learn from their failures. And I’m sure there will be some learnings from this experience. But reducing the story to SpaceX’s PR line is doing the public a disservice. We should be discussing the fuller context of the launch, which far too many people seem happy to ignore because rockets look cool and SpaceX is probably the final part of Musk’s empire that doesn’t seem affected by scandal — after all, who cares about the stories of sexism, ageism, and the firing of workers for speaking out against him?